William K. Oh, MD, Receives Creativity Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation

William K. Oh, MD is one of only 12 researchers to receive a Creativity Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).

 – May 12, 2010 /Press Release/  –– 

William K. Oh, MD, Chief of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Professor of Medicine and Urology, and Ezra M. Greenspan, MD, Professor in Clinical Cancer Therapeutics, is one of only 12 researchers to receive a Creativity Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). A rigorous peer review process vetted the 12 selected projects from a field of more than 157 applications representing 92 institutions in 11 countries.

The PCF Creativity Awards, totaling $3.6 million, are given in support of innovative projects that have the potential to fast-forward discovery and deliver game-changing results for prostate cancer research. These two-year awards are designed to support new ideas that may lead to the development of better diagnostics, new treatments, and even cures for prostate cancer. The type of research ideas encouraged by PCF’s Creativity Awards are typically not funded by any government or other private sources, but represent new approaches for treating prostate cancer.

Dr. Oh was awarded a $300,000 grant over two years in support of his research study, "Predicting Response to Platinum Chemotherapy in Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC) Using a Genomic Signature for BRCAness." Every cell has DNA repair mechanisms that function to protect DNA from harmful mutations, which can cause cancer and cell death. In healthy cells, DNA repair mechanisms are intact but in cancer cells they are often — but not always — damaged. Platinums are a class of chemotherapy medicines that kill cancer cells by damaging the cell’s DNA structure. However, certain types of cancer cells are more susceptible to DNA-damaging drugs such as platinum than are others. Satraplatin is a type of platinum that is unique; it can cause more severe DNA damage than its counterparts. Yet BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes that may predict satraplatin activity and confer therapy sensitivity. Importantly, some patients carry BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations resulting in limited DNA repair function.

Dr. Oh hypothesizes that patients with loss of BRCA1/2 function will benefit more from satraplatin therapy — particularly if the cancer is anaplastic — because the cancer cells lack the ability to repair themselves. The PCF award will fund a prospective Phase II clinical trial of satraplatin in metastatic prostate cancer patients that will determine whether patients with mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are more sensitive to satraplatin therapy. Such findings will advance personalized medicine in prostate cancer treatment strategies and can be applied to newer drugs that also target this DNA repair pathway.

Dr. Oh’s co-investigators include Sonia Seng, MD, a fellow in hematology and medical oncology at Mount Sinai, and Philip Febbo, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Duke Institute for Genome Research and Policy.